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Kootenay Kiltie Pipe Band Celebrates a Century in Scottish Highland Style

The band has led the Remembrance Day parade and honoured veterans on November 11 as long as there has been recognition in Nelson. — Submitted photo

The oldest pipe band in the Kootenays is celebrating 100 years of entertaining the community with a traditional Scottish Highland music concert held on (Saturday) April 13.

The band has led the Remembrance Day parade and honoured veterans on November 11 as long as there has been recognition in Nelson. They’ve hosted Robbie Burns Suppers in Nelson since before they were formed showcasing their culture to the community.

“The Kootenay Kiltie Pipe Band has been a mainstay of civic welcome and celebration in Nelson since 1919,” said pipe major David Hogg, recently named Nelson’s 2018 Citizen of the Year.  "We have welcomed Royalty, Governor Generals, Prime Ministers, Premiers, Olympic champions, and led parades of celebration and remembrance on Nelson’s streets for many generations."

The Clan Johnstone formed the Kilties Band in 1919 under the direction of pipe major William McLeary. As WWI had just ended, the original six pipers and four drummers wore full Highland military-style uniforms and kilts in the Royal Stewart tartan.

Soon after the band formed, Clan Johnstone became Clan McLeary and eventually, the name became Kootenay Kiltie Pipe Band.

They’ve performed in Kaslo, Silverton, Nakusp, Salmo, Trail, Castlegar and Grand Forks and have represented Nelson as they’ve played in Kimberley, Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon, Kamloops, Spokane, Sand Point, Coeur d’ Alene, Whistler and Shuzenji, Japan.

Today, the band is made up of about 20 people some of whom have had family members playing in the Kootenay Kilties since its inception.

“My great grandfather James Milne was a member of the Clan Johnstone when the band was formed,” said Verity Hale, a tenor drummer with Kootenay Kiltie since childhood. “When I march with my band mates, I have a profound sense of pride about the tradition that we’ve maintained for so long.”

The Kootenay Kiltie Pipe Band is hosting a concert at the Capitol Theatre April 13 starting at 7 p.m. They will share the stage with the Trail Pipe Band, Highland dancers from Nelson, Castlegar and Trail and well as other Celtic musicians.

Tickets are on sale now at the Capitol Theatre. Adults are $20 and students are $15. All money raised will go to supporting the band.

Continuing until May 19 is the Touchstones Nelson exhibit: Kiltie Band: 100 Year Celebration in Gallery B.

“The Kootenay Kilties are a community band of members from all walks of life. We have travelled near and far representing our community proudly. Our history is Nelson’s history,” said Hogg.

The 100th year celebrations carry on the first weekend of May with the Spring Fling 2019 held in downtown Nelson. Ten pipe bands will join the Kootenay Kilties and more than 150 pipers and drummers will parade down Baker Street. Hall Street Plaza will be the venue for the Massed Band, Civic Reception and individual band Medley and March events.

“We can’t wait to provide Nelsonites with this thrilling Scottish experience,” said Hogg. “Please join us for an exciting Scottish experience.”

Bands attending will come from Trail, Grand Forks, Kimberley, Spokane, Summerland, Kelowna, Vernon, Salmon Arm, Kamloops and Cowichan.

A picture of the Pipe band from from the Kootenay Kilties archives. — Submitted photo